A rose-red city – half as old as time

Petra is sometimes called the ‘Lost City’. In spite of its being such an important city in
antiquity, after the 14th century !, Petra "as completely lost to the "estern "orld. It "as
redisco#ered in 1$1% by the &"iss tra#eller, 'ohann Lud"ig (urc)hardt, "ho tric)ed his "ay
into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an rab from India "ishing to ma)e a
sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet aron.
*he giant red mountains and #ast mausoleums of a departed race ha#e nothing in common
"ith modern ci#ili+ation, and as) nothing of it e,cept to be appreciated at their true #alue - as
one of the greatest "onders e#er "rought by .ature and /an.
lthough much has been "ritten about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this ama+ing
place. It has to be seen to be belie#ed.
0ften described as the eighth "onder of the ancient "orld, it is "ithout doubt 'ordan’s most
#aluable treasure and greatest tourist attraction. It is a #ast, unique city, car#ed into the sheer
roc) face by the .abataeans, an industrious rab people "ho settled here more than %111
years ago, turning it into an important 2unction for the sil), spice and other trade routes that
lin)ed China, India and southern rabia "ith 3gypt, &yria, 4reece and 5ome.
Entrance to the city is through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1 kilometre in length, which is flanked on either side
by soaring, 80 metres high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an e!erience in itself. long the left hand
side of the siq, there is a co#ered "ater channel used to bring "ater from the spring
in 6adi /usa into the center of Petra. *he museum in Petra has t"o pieces of pipe
on display so tourists can see the incredible ad#ancement that the .abataeans made
in their "ater "or)s.
"he colours and formations of the rocks are da##ling. $s you reach the end of the Siq you will catch your first
glim!se of $l%&ha#neh '"reasury(.
"his is an awe%ins!iring e!erience. $ massive fa)ade, *0m wide and +*m high, carved out of the sheer, dusky
!ink, rock%face and dwarfing everything around it. ,t was carved in the early 1st century as the tomb of an
im!ortant -abataean king and re!resents the engineering genius of these ancient !eo!le.
"he "reasury is .ust the first of the many wonders that make u! /etra. 0ou will need at least four or five days to
really e!lore everything here. $s you enter the /etra valley you will be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this
!lace and its outstanding architectural achievements. "here are hundreds of elaborate rock%cut tombs with
intricate carvings % unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last
throughout the afterlife and 100 have survived, em!ty but bewitching as you file !ast their dark o!enings. 2ere
3oman%style theatre, which could seat *,000 !eo!le. "here are obelisks, tem!les, sacrificial altars and
colonnaded streets, and high above, overlooking the valley, is the im!ressive $d%4eir 5onastery 6 a flight of 800
rock cut ste!s takes you there.
7ithin the site there are also two ecellent museums8 the /etra $rchaeological 5useum and the /etra -abataean
5useum both of which re!resent finds from ecavations in the /etra region and an insight into /etra9s colourful
!ast.
$ 1*th century shrine, built by the 5ameluk Sultan $l -asir 5ohammad to commemorate the death of $aron, the
brother of 5oses, can be seen on to! of 5ount $aron in the Sharah range.
,nside the site, several artisans from the town of 7adi 5usa and a nearby :edouin settlement have set u! small
stalls selling local handicrafts, such as !ottery and :edouin .ewellery and bottles of striated multi%coloured sands
from the area.
also is a massive -abataean%built,
,t is not !ermitted for motori#ed vehicles to enter the site. :ut if you don;t want to walk, you can hire a horse or a
horse%drawn carriage to take you through the one kilometre Siq. <or the elderly and=or handica!!ed, the >isitors9
?entre, close to the entrance of the Siq, will issue a s!ecial !ermit 'at an etra fee(, for the carriage to go inside
/etra to visit the main attractions. @nce inside the site, you can hire a donkey, or for the more adventurous, a
camel % both come with handlers and take designated routes throughout the site.

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